Saturday, December 24, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
While my memories of Doctor Who dribble all the way back to 1979 and beyond I was a teensy bit young for Blake's 7 the first time around. I have a few memories of watching the series from between my fingers* but it wasn't until UK Gold reran the series in it's entirety in the early nineties that I finally got to appreciate the show. I think I went a bit Blake's 7 mad for a while.
I think I've gone a bit Blake's 7 mad again. I don't know what's caused it. It might have been playing through Mass Effect 2 or reading Iain M. Banks' Player of Games**. It might have been finally getting around to listening to the first of the B7 media audioplays, Rebel, two or three months ago (it's good stuff). It may just have been a rising pitch of excitement since Big Finish were revealed to be preparing a new series of audio dramas and novels. Squee doesn't come close to covering it. I've even dug out issue one of the Blake's 7 poster magazine*** and now have a tatty picture of the series two Liberator crew adorning the study.
Anyway, after talking about it for many years my good lady (or woman, as Gan would say) and I finally started watching the series from the beginning recently. She has never watched it before (well, maybe a few episodes when the DVDs were coming out) and I am well due a rewatch. I might post some notes here as we go. If you are, or were, a fan of Blake's 7 I'd be delighted to have any comments, notes or disputes offered via the comments****.
* I've mentioned this before
** (if the main character isn't at least partly inspired by Kerr Avon I'll eat my hat (and also, I've often thought the AIs in the Culture seem very similar to those of B7))
*** There were only seven issues, and I only ever saw one in a shop, worse luck.
**** I'm not too interested in knocking the effects. I think that's been pretty extensively covered in the last three decades. Of course, I wouldn't let that stand in the way of a good gag.
Friday, December 09, 2011
This update is late, sorry. I meant to do a 'What did I learn from NaNoWriMo' type post last week but time has rather got away from me. I will try and do something like that soon but in the meantime I'll just say that it was a really good exercise, got me in to a nice (if intense) routine and I'm happy to have met the traditional target. I hoped initially to write 60k words rather than 50k, and on learning of the Heartlands opportunity I amended this to trying to finish a week early, but due to a family emergency type situation I lost a few days and failed both of those self-imposed targets.
Although it was fun to write I can't see me ever going back to revise the book. It will require a lot of work to make it into a sellable, or even readable, manuscript and the potential for the market is teeny-tiny. Still, the exercise was the important thing. I didn't really set out to create something sellable, just to test myself. On the other hand I could see myself harvesting the plot for a feature script one day...
I definitely want to write another novel, whether I will leave that until next November or get underway sooner I don't know. Having shown myself that hey, I can do this! I think I would like to set a more demanding wordcount target for a fully prepared novel intended for publication.
No sooner had I wandered, dazed and confused, over the NaNoWriMo finish line I was thrown head first into revisiting a bottom(top?)-draw script which I felt was the most appropriate thing I had to enter into the BBC's excellent Heartlands opportunity. It's kind of funny really as I have never known quite what to do with that script but it seemed perfect for Heartlands, or that's my feeling. Fingers crossed they have a similar view at the Beeb. In any case I had a day or two to work that up and send it in. It was pretty rushed but hopefully I managed to make it shine. I genuinely like the script. Actually, while rereading it, I laughed out loud at a couple of lines. I hope that's a sign that the script is good and not a sign that I've lost all perspective on my own work!
The Heartlands shortlist will be announced on Tuesday. Good luck to all.
So now it's all about the Red Planet Prize again. This time I'm going to write something from scratch, specifically for Red Planet. In previous years I've sent in what I thought was my most suitable existing script (as you may remember they passed on what is still my favourite effort last time, sadface). I don't suppose it really makes any difference but I have some superstitious idea that it will infuse each word with extra special Red Planet-ness that will make it a winner, fingers crossed.
Obviously I won't say too much about the script, mainly because I'm not commited yet, I'm still kicking around a couple of ideas, but I'm very excited about writing a new script.
The Red Planet deadline is January 16th.
Friday, November 25, 2011
It doesn't look likely that I'll meet my self-imposed target of finishing the novel today. It's a bit of a cliché but real life has caught up with me in a sudden and upsetting way this week which meant that work ground to a halt Wednesday and Thursday.
I guess there's a chance that I might write the last 9,000 or so words tonight but as I will be away from home for at least part of the weekend it's far more likely that I will finish early next week. There is still plenty of time before the official deadline of November 30th, after all. I was hoping to be able to concentrate exclusively on my Heartlands entry all next week but I do have a couple of days booked off from the day job for that purpose so I'm sure I will still be able to catch up.
If this were a film then we'd be at the part where you keep cutting between the clicking countdown and our hero's herculean efforts to beat it...
Thursday, November 24, 2011
So dear friends your love is goneOnly tears to dwell uponI dare not say as the wind must blowSo a love is lost, a love is wonGo to sleep and dream againSoon your hopes will rise and thenFrom all this gloom life can start anewAnd there'll be no crying soonBrian May
Friday, November 18, 2011
BBC Writersroom have joined up with the nice folk who make Doctors to develop an exciting opportunity for Midlands-based writers.
Heartlands will provide an industry training and development opportunity for writers with some of the most experienced producers in the country. A shortlist will be invited to a masterclass day. Selected writers will then be chosen to take part in an intensive three-day mini-academy for Doctors, and/or
receive mentoring on their original script from an established writer.
On Monday evening I went along to the launch event at Birmingham Library Theatre.
Will Trotter (BBC Executive Producer, Drama Series) Peter Lloyd (Senior Producer, Doctors) and Paul Ashton (Development Producer, BBC Writersroom) were there to officially launch the search, to talk about BBC One drama, Doctors, and to answer questions.
The main focus of the Q&A was on Doctors, as you would expect, but Paul Ashton did cover the Writersroom unsolicited script process and speak a little about television drama, both in the region and nationally, in the current economic climate.
I came away feeling really excited about the opportunity, but also about Writersroom in general. I think in the past I've thought of Writersroom as a big impersonal mechanical process, but having heard Paul Ashton speaking about it I can see that it really isn't, and of course it wouldn't work if it was.
All in all a brilliant opportunity and I will definitely be entering. The deadline is 9am on December 2nd so no time to waste.
The NaNoWriMo novel is still chuffing along. Had a very bad time of it last week, so much so that I ended up feeling that the week might have been more productive if I'd just headbutted a wall every night for five days while chanting “NA-NO-WRI-MO-NA-NO-WRI-MO”.
This week I finally seem to be settling back into the groove and I'm now relatively happy with how it's going. Again.
I've found myself recalling the anecdote about Douglas Adams being locked in a hotel suite until he finished So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish quite a lot lately. I think I've found some strength in his example this week and it's helped me pick myself up. I'm also rereading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency as a small tribute to him and a treat for me.
Support has also been provided by that lovely Neil Gaiman, who linked to this on twitter and cheered me right up. There can't be all that many professions where the news that it doesn’t get any easier can be encouraging.
Something else that I've been reminded of - years ago James Moran mentioned in a blog post that while you might say you don't have time to write, you still find time to watch television every night, or read a book (I can't find the link sorry, so just go and read his Big Writing FAQ again instead). I feel like the living embodiment of this point, having hardly looked at a television or seen my ever supportive wife all month. On the other hand I've written about 26,000 words of prose. It's amazing what you can do when you try, eh?
Due to the Heartlands deadline, and with a heavy heart, I've decided to abandon my secret target word count of 65,000 words. My new ambition is to finish (hit 50k) by November 25th to give me a full week to work on my Heartlands entry. A full week, you scoff. Yes, a full week. Luckily I have just the draft zero script for this competition sitting in a draw. I've been meaning to do something with it for ages but now the opportunity has come knocking it's time to make it shine.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Yes, it's that time again - Red Planet Prize 2011/2012
I'll let the man himself fill you in...
It's the best screenwriting competition in the world. Here's why:
- FREE to enter.
- A truly amazing prize: £5k, a script commission and an agent (if you don't already have one).
- Lots of opportunities and mentorship for the finalists.- Robert Thorogood, a finalist in the inaugural 2007 competition, developed his new BBC series 'Death in Paradise' via the Red Planet Prize.
- Many other finalists have launched their careers through the scheme and have worked, or are working, on other shows.
- Quite simply, it's a screenwriting competition by writers for writers.
Here's how it works:
- Submit the 1st ten pages of a 60-minute pilot or one-off 60-minute TV script. Any genre you want. A 100 word synopsis and a 16 word maximum logline is also required.
- If we like your first ten pages, we invite you to submit the entire script.
- A shortlist is compiled. A winner is chosen from an esteemed line-up of judges.
Full details and how to enter can be found on the website. And/or click here to read how and why the competition started.
THE DEADLINE IS 16TH JANUARY 2012.
Plenty of time to think of a new idea, polish the first ten pages to an inch of their life, AND have the entire script finished in case it gets chosen for the second round.
I'll be entering, of course, and so should you. It really is the best screenwriting competition out there.
NaNoWriMo week one has gone pretty well. Hopefully you can see that wee progress bar filling up daily over on the right there. I'm now a quarter of the way to the 50,000 word official target, although I've actually set myself a more challenging target of 65,000 words. I've been pleased with the amount I've been producing. I do have concerns about the quality of the work but hey, that's what Draft Zero is all about.
Most of all I'm just pleased that I'm sitting at my desk every day and bashing out around 2,000 words. It's a long time since I've had a good spell like this and it really feels like a new start.
Even though I'm not accepting an award or anything, I'd like to thank my lovely wife (who is blogless but can usually be found on twitter) for all her support. She's always been enthusiastic about my writing but I'm sure I wouldn't have thrown myself into NaNoWriMo so wholeheartedly if it hadn't been for her encouragement.
I was only thinking this morning that come December, in the post NaNoWriMo glow, I might bash out a first draft on a feature idea I've had knocking around for a few months. Hear the sound of smashing window panes? Now I'll be working on a new TV script for the Red Planet prize - how exciting!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Cross a finger for me why dontcha?
Friday, June 24, 2011
I should probably say first off that I've never read the books, so I came to it only as a mildy curious viewer. I may check out the first volume (on which this series is based, I believe) now. I'd be interested to hear what fans of the books thought of the adaptation.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
He called it Feed the Birds (no idea, ask him), and many of us twittering, blogging, screeching screenwriters signed up straight away and got electronic-chin-wagging. It was all very exciting.
Since then it's gotten a little quiet, so we thought we'd have a bit of a promotion and try and draw in some fresh blood.
As The Webmaster has said over at his gaff, it's a great place to ask questions, share knowledge and discuss writing (or not writing) with a community of like minded folk. Or to lark about when you should be getting on with some real work. You could even use it to make contacts and promote your work.
Why not check it out? I hope to see you there.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
For ten minutes I watched as the rest of Twitter did the same. Is it true? It's not true. Is this some cruel joke? When it was confirmed by DWM there could be no doubt, if there ever really had been any given the number, and the integrity, of the sources.
I sat in much the same position for hours. Reading tributes as they came in from all quarters. Seeing the breaking news banner on the BBC website. Hearing of the Newsnight piece. I didn't know Lis personally, I was just a fan, but I wonder how she would have felt at the scale of the reaction to the news of her horribly untimely passing. She didn't like a fuss, they say. We must all try to do better.
It's difficult to find a positive angle to this terribly sad news, but I guess we should realise how lucky we fans are that Russell T Davies, and the success of his vision of Doctor Who, allowed Sarah Jane to have so many new adventures on television over the last five years, and that yet another generation of children were able to fall in love with her.
I don't have anything to say that hasn't been put better by tens of fans already. She was the archetypal companion, she was an inspiration. She was Sarah Jane Smith, and I loved her.
Goodbye Lis. x
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Well. What a load of rubbish has been written about Outcasts, mostly by people who should know better.
The reality is that Outcasts is a thoughtful, entertaining and rewarding series which has been, perhaps, let down by a less than dynamic first episode.
Issues of pace have been covered in depth elsewhere but it is not an arresting first episode, and certainly not an episode that will hook a non-genre audience. If they wanted another Life on Mars then the opener needed to be much, much stronger.
As Den of Geek suggested we badly need to see more pilots being made. They test the programme concept and, I think, they make the production team focus a bit more on tightening up. They know what's at stake, I guess, as if the pilot doesn't get a good reception then it's game over (man!). I think Outcasts relied on people sticking with it beyond the first episode (whereas regrettably I doubt some people made it through the first episode). I don't think, as a writer, producer, leading television company, anyone-else-in-the-decision-making-chain, you can ever assume that the audience isn't going to turn over if you don't keep them interested, that's a basic rule (particularly well drummed/seared into writers).
The fact is that this is a well written, beautifully shot programme with excellent performances. Locations are stunning and are used to spectacular effect. Aside from some clunky exposition in episode one the dialogue has been good and the characters and relationships interesting. There are many threads being woven here, given time this could become a very rich, muti-layered show.
Anyway, the point of this waffling is to tell you that I'm really enjoying Outcasts, and I very much hope that the BBC accepts that there is an audience and allows it to continue.
And if you're not watching it because you've heard or read that it's crap, then give it a try yourself and make up your own mind.
Dom likes Outcasts too, why not wander over and have a read?
*For illustration: in its second week Outcasts averaged 2.703 million viewers and a 10.8% audience share; Survivors, cancelled after its second series, had enjoyed an average of 3.81m viewers that year; while the third series of the stonkingly successful (and precious to this blog (and bloody hell how good is this series???)) Being Human opened (on BBC3) with 1.368 million viewers, a 5% audience share. The benefits of multichannel programming....